After three long, agonising months of waiting, Norwich will finally get the chance to begin their journey to Premier League redemption - when they take on Southampton at Carrow Road.
The Canaries are currently six points away from safety, and know that victory is here imperative ahead of some difficult fixtures in the coming weeks against the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United.
#MondayMotivation— Tim Krul (@TimKrul) June 15, 2020
Today is the start of a massive week.. Last preparations the next few days and then back to business Friday night vs @SouthamptonFC ??? #apartbuttogether #NeverGiveUp pic.twitter.com/gzWb8bdMwm
The Saints, meanwhile, look to have their top flight status secured for another year, but they'll want to make sure of it with a couple of early wins. Some iffy performances before the enforced coronavirus break will have left Ralph Hasenhüttl worried, but the club will have been buoyed by the news of him signing a new four-year deal.
Here's 90min's preview of the game.
Where to Watch
When is Kick Off? Friday 19 June
What Time is Kick Off? 18:00 (GMT)
Where Is it Played? Carrow Road
TV Channel? Sky Sports Main Event/Sky Sports Premier League
Prior to the break, Norwich had a bit of an injury crisis on the go. But the long break has meant that Daniel Farke has close to a fully-fit squad to choose from, with Onel Hernández, Timm Klose and Sam Byram all returning to training.
Similarly, Ralph Hasenhüttl has no injury concerns regarding his players, as the three months off have given those that were previously sidelined enough time to recover and be ready for the rest of the season.
The trio of Nathan Redmond, Stuart Armstrong and Will Smallbone, who all missed their last game in March, have all been cleared to play, but Moussa Djenepo is suspended.
Norwich: Krul; Aarons, Hanley, Godfrey, Lewis; Tettey, McLean; Buendia, Duda, Cantwell; Pukki
Southampton: McCarthy; Walker-Peters, Stephens, Bednarek, Bertrand; Ward-Prowse, Højbjerg; Armstrong, Redmond; Ings, Long
Back in December, it was the south-coast side that narrowly won the reverse league fixture. A pair of goals from Danny Ings and Ryan Bertrand helped the Saints hold on for the three points, despite Teemu Pukki's second-half strike.
Hasenhüttl's side have the slight upper hand in the teams' overall head-to-head record, having won this fixture 50 times to Norwich's 40, and will be looking for another victory to do the 'double' over the Norfolk club - a feat they have not achieved since the 2006/07 season.
Yet the Canaries have a good recent record at home to Southampton, having not lost at Carrow Road to their opponents since 2010 - the year in which both sides were playing in the Championship.
It's evident that neither side were in good form before the league was suspended. The hosts had only won one of their last six games, including their most recent 1-0 defeat at Sheffield United.
As for the Saints, they had just a single victory in seven games - the last of those defeats coming at home to Newcastle United. The break will have allowed the players to recharge their batteries and refocus on the task at hand.
Here's how both sides fared in their last five fixtures before the Premier League was suspended.
Sheffield United 1-0 Norwich (7/3)
Tottenham 1-1 Norwich (4/3)
Norwich 1-0 Leicester (28/2)
Wolves 3-0 Norwich (23/2)
Norwich 0-1 Liverpool (15/2)
Southampton 0-1 Newcastle (7/3)
West Ham 3-1 Southampton (28/2)
Southampton 2-0 Aston Villa (22/2)
Southampton 1-2 Burnley (15/2)
Tottenham 3-2 Southampton (5/2)
Undoubtedly, there will be plenty of ring rust for both teams so a high-scoring thriller appears unlikely.
Norwich need the win badly - with tough games on the horizon - and picking up three points would go a long way to giving them a chance of Premier League survival.
But the Saints will be just as hungry to put distance between themselves and the bottom three, and will see this game as a great opportunity to do just that. With the stands empty, home advantage won't count for much now - so a share of the spoils is a likely outcome.
Prediction: Norwich 1-1 Southampton
Source : 90min